Skip to content

North Korea’s Nuclear Missiles: The Fantasy and the Reality of Australia’s Response

North Koreas Nuclear Missiles: The Fantasy and the Reality of Australias Response
By James O’Neill

On 4 July 2017 North Korea fired a missile from their territory that landed in the Sea of Japan. Western commentators immediately labeled it an ICBM with the capability of reaching Alaska, and by implication, the north of Australia.

The threat posed by North Koreas missile test has dominated the strategic commentaries ever since. It was personified by a major article in the Sydney Morning Herald on 8 July 2017 by political editor Peter Hartcher. Hartcher quoted a number of defence experts , all of whom assumed:

  • That it was, in fact, an ICBM;
  • That North Korea had, or would shortly have, the capacity to fit a nuclear warhead to the missile;
  • That such a development posed an existential threat to Australia; and,
  • That Australia had no current defence against such a development and there was therefore an urgent need to acquire an anti-missile defence system to protect Australia.

In support of that last point, Hartcher quoted Foreign Minister Julie Bishop saying that North Korea is a threat directly to Australia, and former G.W. Bush adviser Mike Green, now of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, that Australia should absolutely be considering setting up a missile defence system.

There is an acknowledgement, quoting Labor defence spokesman Richard Marles, that there is doubt that the Defence Department has any confidence in the efficacy of American anti-missile defence systems, and that for Australia the risk is too small and the cost too great.

The North Korean missile test raises a number of geopolitical and defence issues, none of which have been adequately addressed. Some of the more important of those issues will now be addressed within the framework of the four assumptions (a) to (d) above.

  • Was it an ICBM? Despite the claims of the Americans in particular, and the assumptions of the Australian commentators, there is doubt that the missile was, in fact, an ICBM. In a report provided to the UN Security Council, the Russian Ministry of Defence stated that the missile flew only 535km and reached an altitude of 510km before falling into the Sea of Japan.

Confirmation or rebuttal of the Russian claim is readily available, not least from the Americans themselves from their satellite and radar tracking facilities, but they have neither confirmed nor denied the Russian report. Instead there has been an escalation of tensions, with US warships being dispatched to Korean waters, and American UN Ambassador Nikki Haley issuing direct threats of unilateral US military action.1 That such threats are neither justified nor have any basis in international law seemingly leaves Australian commentators untroubled.

By contrast, the Russian and Chinese governments issued a joint statement on 4 July condemning the North Korean missile test as unacceptable and a breach of relevant Security Council resolutions. More importantly, however, the two governments propose a specific set of measures aimed at defusing tensions on the Korean peninsula and creating the terms for a peaceful resolution of the problem.2

These proposals were based on earlier proposals put forward by China that required a freeze on missile activities by both North Korea and the United States, a stop to large scale joint South Korean and US military exercises that directly threaten North Korea; and steps taken to progressively demilitarize the Korean peninsula.

The US rejected the proposed action, just as it had earlier rejected the Chinese proposal. As has been detailed elsewhere, there is a long history of US actions sabotaging a potential resolution of Korean issues.

It is a legitimate question to ask as to why there has been this prolonged negative history, and why the US would not welcome the proposals put forward by Russia and China as marking at least the beginning of an opportunity for a genuine reduction in a dangerous situation. They are questions the Australian government, and their echo chamber in the media, are unwilling to ask.

  • North Koreas Nuclear Delivery Capability. We do not know if North Korea currently has the technical capability or not to deliver a nuclear armed ICBM to a distant target, although the weight of evidence would suggest not. It would be unwise to assume that the technical capability will not be reached sooner or later. The more important question for Australia is, does it matter either way, and what is the appropriate policy response?

There are a large number of countries between North Korea and Australia, a distance of more than 5000km, but there is a conspicuous lack of evidence that with the possible exceptions of South Korea and Japan, any of them are rushing to develop an anti-missile capability. The most probable reason for that is that they have no legitimate reason to fear that they might be a target. Even if there was a remote hypothetical threat, they are also aware that embarking on an expensive anti-missile program would have no practical effect.

In the case of South Korea and Japan, their proximity to North Korea would mean that the radioactive fallout would also contaminate North Korea itself. There are also a large number of US military bases in South Korea, Okinawa and the Japanese mainland that any attack on them would result in massive retaliation by the US, reducing North Korea to rubble again, whether radioactive or not. There is no evidence that Kim is suicidal.

  • Is There a Threat To Australia? Technically yes, at least once North Korea actually does have an ICBM capability and the warhead technology to match. The more important question, however, is why would Australia be a target? Kim has apparently made remarks about Australia being targetable on the basis of Australias relationship with the US. Again, that is a theoretical possibility, but what would it achieve in practical terms? There is no evidence that any benefit would accrue to North Korea by attacking Australia. A remote possibility is apparently insufficient to reassure Australian defence planners.

Instead, Australias historical defence strategy has been to rely on the US as its security guarantor, repeated as recently as 16 July when Julie Bishop appeared on the ABCs Insiders program. This strategy assumes in effect that an attack upon Australia would result in retaliation by the United States. That is an increasingly heroic assumption.

From a strategic point of view that assumption creates two major possibilities. The first is that if the US does, in fact, respond to an attack upon Australia by North Korea with a response using, as Nikki Haley would have it, full American military might, then North Korea would suffer the same outcome as described under scenario (b) above.

Alternatively, however, if the US decided that it was not in its own national security issue to retaliate, than what has been the point of the past seventy years of blind obeisance to the USs geopolitical ambitions?

Australia has joined a whole series of US inspired wars, including but not limited to the ongoing disasters in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and before them in Vietnam. These wars have had no strategic value to Australia, notwithstanding the mainstream media propaganda and the absurd claims of politicians to the contrary.

Joining such wars, ignoring the atrocities perpetrated by allies upon Palestine and Yemen, and joining in the ill-founded demonization of Libya, Russia and Iran among other places have all essentially been the payment of insurance premiums. ANZUS, the alleged cornerstone of that insurance policy, is in reality no more than a promise to consult. It is not a guarantee than an attack upon one will be regarded as an attack upon the all, which characterizes the NATO Treaty. Trumps refusal to reaffirm that particular point in a recent speech was treated with alarm the USs NATO allies, but its obvious implications for ANZUS, which is much weaker, was completely ignored in Australia. The actual terms of the ANZUS Treaty and its implications is one of the cruelest deceptions perpetrated upon the Australian public over many decades.

  • Australia Therefore Needs its Own Missile Defence System? There are three major anti-missile defence systems on the world market. Two of them would probably work in the Australian context, and the third almost certainly not. Of the former two systems, the better known is the Russian S400 series, recently purchased by Turkey, nominally at least still a member of NATO, as well as India. The other anti-missile system, almost certainly not available to Australia, is the Chinese High Powered Microwave System (HPM). As an article in The Diplomat (11 March 2017) recently explained this system undermines the efficacy of even the most advanced US missiles.

This fact points to two related vulnerabilities of the third anti-missile option and the one most likely to be favoured by Australia in the event of a decision to buy such a system, the US Patriot system. The version of this system that is even remotely useful for Australia is the PAC-2.. The PAC-2, however, relies upon a satellite in orbit to provide it with data necessary for its guidance. Australia does not have such satellites and would therefore be wholly reliant upon the Americans for such access. Even if access were granted, the satellites could be disabled by the Chinese HPM defences. In short, a very expensive white elephant, much like the F35 fighter and the submarines recently contracted for with France.

What if a Real Enemy Attacked Us? Posturing about the potential North Korean threat to one side, the country that possesses the real capacity to attack Australia is China. Such an attack is highly unlikely and would only enter their strategic equation because of Australias military links to the US, particularly through the spy base at Pine Gap, and several other US military bases in Australia.

The Chinese missile system applicable here is the Dongfeng41, which has 8-10 independently targetable nuclear warheads; has an operational range of 12,000-15,000km; and a top speed of Mach25. There is no western system capable of defending against it.

A related weapon in the Chinese armoury is the Dongfeng21D, which according to the US National Air and Space Intelligence Centre, is the worlds first anti-ship ballistic missile. It has a range of 1450km and can be fired from mobile land based systems. Its speed, accuracy and a variety of other technical features render US aircraft carriers, the cornerstone of US military projection, into expensive death traps.


Given the inability of Australia to defend itself against a real missile attack, the question then becomes, why is there such a drumbeat about the alleged danger of North Korea to us?

The evidence suggests two possible explanations, not necessarily incompatible. The first is that manufacturing a dire threat offers a golden opportunity to promote the sale of American weaponry. There are plenty of examples of this tactic, a recent one being the Iranian nuclear threat being used to justify the installation (20/11/13) of expensive anti-missile systems and other military-based measures in several European countries. The Iranian nuclear furphy has long since been exposed for what it was. It has now been replaced by a resurrection of the Russian threat , accompanied by an unpararelled demonization of that country and its President Vladimir Putin. One consequence has been the eastward march of NATO to the Russian borders. Just who is threatening whom is not a question the Australian media are willing to address.

The other principal purpose served by constant reiteration of the North Korean threat is that it justifies the continued US military presence in East Asia, an area geographically remote from the US. Australian politicians persist in calling that presence a force for stability and peace in the region, apparently without a hint of irony. Again, the rhetoric and the reality are a mismatch.

All of the USs actions and statements with regard to Asia, from the Korean War, through Vietnam and up to and including Obamas pivot to the present rhetoric can be understood within the framework of a single strategic concept: the maintenance of American hegemony and with it the encirclement and containment of the greatest threat to that hegemony, China.

That policy is doomed to fail, but it carries inordinate risks to Australia. Instead of confronting that risk and formulating defence and foreign policy priorities that reflect Australias national interest, Australia is clinging to policies that no longer resonate in a changing world. In the words of Stuart Rollo (10 July 2017) Australia is sleepwalking along a path of military confrontation, incapable and unwilling to diverge from American security priorities where they do not reflect our own.

Instead of having a rational and informed public dialogue about these issues, our politicians, urged on by the mainstream media, seem instead to continue with manifestly failed policies of the past. Where our very survival as a nation is at issue, a major rethink is long overdue.

  1. Sydney Morning Herald, 6 July 2017. []
  2. Statement of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Number 1317, 4 July 2017. []

James O’Neill is a Barrister at Law and geopolitical analyst. He can be contacted at [email protected]. Read other articles by James.

View the original article at

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Posted in Analysis & Review, China, Mainstream Media, Middle East.

Tagged with , , , , , , , , .

Support #altnews & keep Dark Politricks alive

Remember I told you over 5 years ago that they would be trying to shut down sites and YouTube channels that are not promoting the "Official" view. Well it's happening big time. Peoples Channels get no money from YouTube any more and Google is being fishy with their AdSense giving money for some clicks but not others. The time is here, it's not "Obama's Internet Cut Off Switch" it's "Trumps Sell Everyones Internet Dirty Laundry Garage Sale".

It's not just Google/YouTube defunding altenative chanels (mine was shut), but Facebook is also removing content, shutting pages, profiles and groups and removing funds from #altnews that way as well. I was recently kicked off FB and had a page "unpublished" with no reason given. If you don't know already all Facebooks Private Messages and Secret Groups are still analysed and checked for words related to drugs, sex, war etc against their own TOS. Personally IU know there are undercover Irish police moving from group to group cloning peoples accounts and getting people booted. Worse than that I know people in court at the moment for the content they had on their secret private group. Use Telegrams secret chat mode to chat on, or if you prefer Wickr. Or if you need to, buy a dumb phone with nothing for the NSA to hack into if you are that paranoid. Ensure it has no GPS tracking on it and the battery can be removed. These are usually built for old people to get used to technology storing only a set of numbers to call. However they have no games, applications to install and other ways people can exploit the computer tracking device you carry round with you most of the day.

So if your not supporting this site already which brings you news from the Left to the Right (really the same war mongering bollox) then I could REALLY do with some..

Even if it's just £5 or tick the monthly subscription box and throw a few pound my way each month, it will be much appreciated. Read on to find out why.


Any support to keep this site would be appreciated. You could set up a monthly subscription for £2 like some people do or you could pay a one off donation as a gift.
I am not asking you to pay me for other people's articles, this is a clearing house as well as place to put my own views out into the world. I am asking for help to write more articles like my recent false flag gas attack to get WWIII started in Syria, and Trump away from Putin. Hopefully a few missiles won't mean a WikiLeaks release of that infamous video Trump apparently made in a Russian bedroom with Prostitutes. Also please note that this article was written just an hour after the papers came out, and I always come back and update them.

If you want to read JUST my own articles then use the top menu I have written hundreds of articles for this site and I host numerous amounts of material that has seen me the victim of hacks, DOS plus I have been kicked off multiple hosting companies, free blogging sites, and I have even had threats to cease and desist from the US armed forces. Therefore I have to pay for my own server which is NOT cheap. The more people who read these article on this site the more it costs me so some support would be much appreciated.

I have backups of removed reports shown, then taken down after pressure, that show collusion between nations and the media. I have the full redacted 28/29 pages from the 9.11 commission on the site which seems to have been forgotten about as we help Saudi Arabia bomb Yemeni kids hiding in the rubble with white phosphorus, an illegal weaapon. One that the Israeli's even used when they bombed the UN compound in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. We complain about Syrian troops (US Controlled ISIS) using chemical weapons to kill "beautiful babies". I suppose all those babies we kill in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria are just not beautiful enough for Trumps beautiful baby ratio. Plus we kill about 100 times as many as ISIS or the Syrian army have managed by a factor of about 1000 to 1.

I also have a backup of the FOX News series that looked into Israeli connections to 9.11. Obviously FOX removed that as soon as AIPAC, ADL and the rest of the Hasbra brigade protested.

I also have a copy of the the original Liberal Democrats Freedom Bill which was quickly and quietly removed from their site once they enacted and replaced with some watered down rubbish instead once they got into power. No change to police tactics, protesting or our unfair extradition treaty with the USA but we did get a stop to being clamped on private land instead of the mny great ideas in the original.

So ANY support to keep this site running would be much appreciated! I don't have much money after leaving my job and it is a choice between shutting the server or selling the domain or paying a lot of money just so I can show this material.

Material like the FSB Bombings that put Putin in power or the Google no 1 spot when you search for protecting yourself from UK Police with "how to give a no comment interview". If you see any adverts that interest you then please visit them as it helps me without you even needing to give me any money. A few clicks per visit is all it takes to help keep the servers running and tag any tweets with alternative news from the mainstream with the #altnews hashtag I created to keep it alive!

However if you don't want to use the very obvious and cost free ways (to you) to help the site and keep me writing for it then please consider making a small donation. Especially if you have a few quid sitting in your PayPal account doing nothing useful. Why not do a monthly subscription for less money instead. Will you really notice £5 a month?

0 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.